Submitted to: Recent Advances in Insect Physiology, Toxicology and Molecular Biology, Research Signpost
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 29, 2007
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Citation: Harwood, J.D., Greenstone, M.H. 2008. Molecular diagnosis of natural enemy-host interactions. In: Lie, I.N., editor. Recent Advances in Insect Physiology, Toxicology and Molecular Biology. Kerala, India. Research Signpost. p. 41-57.
The cryptic behaviors, small size, and rapid movement and feeding actions of arthropod natural enemies dictate the need for alternative technologies for the study of trophic linkages to replace the traditional approaches of direct observation and laboratory experimentation. Many molecular approaches have been tried over the last sixty years, but field applications have become dominated by just three of them: monoclonal-antibody based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, allozyme electrophoresis, and species-specific PCR. We review the application of these three technologies to the study of natural enemy-host interactions in the field, and find them to be mature, far superior to laboratory experimentation and direct observation for producing ecologically meaningful quantities of species-specific data, and within the capabilities of most modern entomological research laboratories. While all three approaches are efficient and effective, the literature of the past few decades suggests that specific PCR will come to dominate field research on insect parasitism and predation for the foreseeable future.